What do you get when you put a French, Danish and Aussie family together along with a German couple? Yes I know, it sounds like the start of a bad joke, but the punch line is FUN and Dominica has been our location for the last week.
I finally feel like I can see the light and it’s turquoise and aquamarine, brilliant hues of orange, gorgeous shades of green and quite frequently every colour of the rainbow. The reasons for taking on this journey are becoming more and more apparent with each new bay we explore, each trail we hike and each new boat of wonderful people we meet along the way.
Backtrack a little, to over two weeks ago- our arrival in Martinique. Intense relief on all of our behalves to have safely and (in the grand scheme of things) without incident- dental floss issue aside, crossed the Atlantic.
We should be able to relax and take it easy-yes? NOOOOOO. What the hell is wrong with us? We’ve met up with our Kiwi friends from Drakkar who’ve been in the islands over a month already, (if they were any more relaxed they’d be horizontal) and we’re both wound up like springs. Cocktail? You’ve got to be joking. I still can’t stomach alcohol and there’s re-provisioning, laundry, general boat cleaning, repair people to locate and engage, communication means to purchase along with kids who just want to swim and launch the dinghy and play with their friends and avoid schoolwork at all costs and ‘What’s for breakfast, Mum” and and and… (Mike has affectionately nicknamed them, “Stop it” and Don’t!” although it’s not that funny anymore).
Atlantic Crossing Fallout I’m going to call it! I know it exists, I’ve spoken to other people and they felt the same (ha ha, so we’re not freaks after all…)
Max and Shannon, (our Kiwi mates off Drakkar) took the kids for an entire day while we ran around and did what we had to do- quite the gift, let me tell you! After two days in a marina, we said farewell to Juan and found ourselves some clearer waters to anchor in. We spent just over a week in Martinique, anchoring in a few different spots as we made our way up the western side of the island- (The Caribbean Sea side as opposed to the Atlantic side). Turtles popped their heads up and became the topic of investigation for a few days and French bakeries for baguettes and croissants were frequented! We had a chance encounter with a family whose details I’d been given months and months ago by an English friend, (thank you Nell by they way!) They just happened to anchor near our friends boat, swim over to introduce themselves, (as they have two kids and saw 4 kids on the boat) and lo and behold, it turns out they’re the family I’ve been emailing, (albeit sporadically), since September last year!
After our time on Martinique we headed to Dominica. We arrived in Roseau Tuesday afternoon and only spent one night on anchor, before heading to Portsmouth. We were informed about a fundraising BBQ scheduled that very evening and decided we needed some fun. It wasn’t cheap to attend but it was worth every penny! Just what this family needed! An incredible spread was provided- chicken and fish on the grill, delicious rice and salad- rum punch for adults, (happily, I was able to partake) and fresh juice for the kids. We sat with a lovely Canadian couple and two Englishmen. Our two were the only kids in attendance but they were awesome. Lilly was very content to participate in the conversation, between playing with Seb on the beach, who was content hanging out with the local dogs!
After the feast there was dancing in the sand which we all loved. Lilly and I could have stayed all night but alas we had to leave before we pushed that frequently fine line between fun and meltdown.
The next day we wandered into the town of Portsmouth and organized a local sim, a local haircut for Mike, (interesting result) and had a wonderful exchange over lunch with a boy who had been watching Seb playing with his Lego. He very gently and quietly joined us at our table where they shared and created together before he had to head back to school- very cool to watch.
Re reconnected with a Danish boat we’d met briefly in Roseau and organized to join them on a tour of the Indian River, along with a French family and German couple. I think I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking for this experience, as it was visually spectacular. We had an excellent guide- Cobra (or Andrew, but everyone calls him Cobra) who is passionate about his country and his job. We learnt a lot about the plants, wildlife and the island in general thanks to him and he kept it fun and interesting for the kids. Calypso’s Hut, (which he built) from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was a bit of a highlight for the kids and sparked the viewing of all the movies…again. He was a very good salesman and talked us all into doing a tour of the Northern part of the island, the next day.
One word- INCREDIBLE! Sadly we didn’t have Cobra and our guide for the day lacked attention to detail and passion BUT, we had a brilliant time and saw incredible scenery, swam in and under a waterfall, how chocolate is made from pod to bar, had a great lunch on the water, visited some cold sulfur springs and went to a place called the Red Rocks, (here we met Danny, a cross between Johnny Depp playing Jack Sparrow and Bob Marley). There were 8 kids on the trip, they all spoke different languages but they all played and shared a fabulous experience- all in all a fantastic day.
We ended up staying a week, which included seeing the opening of Carnival, a walk to Fort Shirley for some spectacular views and a hike for some much needed exercise.
The last few days of our time in Dominica coincided with a Yacht appreciation week. Lilly participated in a ‘jam’ session where cruisers took along their guitars, playing and singing together. I know, it sounds very ‘Kumbaya’ and initially we walked passed it thinking it might not be appropriate but she was determined to participate and I have to say it was humbling to watch. She walked up in her bathers, ukulele in hand, sat down among the group (she was the youngest by at least 30 or 40 years) and played a few of the tunes she knows, strummed along to what was being played, listened and tapped the beat and had an absolute blast. She surprised me in such an incredible way. I’ve always said I want my kids to be comfortable in their own skin and that afternoon she was right at home! Everyone was exceptionally welcoming and supportive and I think she really sensed that people were genuinely happy to have her participate.
So I have to say the challenges of this lifestyle haven’t disappeared but there’s way more positives becoming apparent. Some things have dissipated for the moment, others are pretty evident, but when you have moments like the Ukulele jam session or the boy playing with Seb and his Lego or the kids playing with all the other kids we’ve met along the way, we have to take stock and acknowledge the benefits of this journey and tell ourselves we are doing something right.
It wasn’t until we were in Martinique that I finally found all the messages that have come through regarding the blog- I’m so sorry I’ve not acknowledged any of them. They are much appreciated and it was lovely to be able to read them in one go. Please keep them coming, we love hearing from you!
We’ve been hiking to an active Volcano today on Guadaloupe and are heading north-more stories to tell but for now, SOL crew out!